Women bearing the brunt of COVID-19 lockdown

Center for Natural Resource Governance (CNRG) has called on the government to embark on a detailed gendered analysis of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, in order to establish the effects of the national lockdown and to assess how they are responding to the challenge.

Simiso Mlevu, the organisation’s communications officer, in a statement, noted that in mining communities the lockdown has negatively impacted on women’s ability to fend for their families.

“The lockdown has restricted women’s ability to move freely and earn a living, since most of them are informal traders relying on vending and cross border trading,” said Mlevu.

She said the measures put into effect through Statutory 83/2020, have made it difficult for women to access cash to purchase basic commodities.

“With the closure of the black market and erratic changes in the electronic money transfer systems such as Ecocash and One Money, women have been failing to access funds to meet the basic needs for their families. Most retailers and informal traders charge higher prices for ecocash payments even though government hasn’t differentiated the rates between bond notes and ecocash.”

Mlevu reiterated that as primary care-givers in the family and society, women are at risk of contracting the virus as they wait for long hours in queues to buy mealie meal and other basic commodities.

“Evidence from Lupane shows that women make up the majority in these queues, yet the shops do not have hand sanitizers and they lack the capacity to promote or enforce social distancing. In instances where they queue with men, women are exposed to physical and sexual harassment as they are shoved and fondled.  Law enforcement agents have not taken any steps to protect women in the queues,” Mlevu said.

She bemoaned how the lockdown has inhibited the capacity of women to identify alternative livelihood options in order to look after their families due to limited movements to engage in income generating initiatives.

“This predicament has the negative effect of increasing incidences of gender-based violence in the home, with cases having been cited of late in Lupane,” said Mlevu.

“Bikita, ward 11, has so far received 14 cases of gender-based violence since the onset of lockdown, which highlights the negative impact of the lockdown on women’s safety and security in the home and the community.”

She implored the government to identify strategies that will allow women in the informal sector to continue conducting their businesses while taking precautionary measures against contracting and spreading Coronavirus.

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